I debated whether or not to put this in the blog, but finally decided that since everybody who reads this blog knows the dogs live with us, it wouldn’t be much of a shock and even potential guests hopefully won’t think they’re coming to a pit if I explained our latest business hurdle.
All restaurant and bar licenses issued from San Ignacio are issued in January of each year. In the beginning of the month, the business owners must have a notice put in one of the local newspapers, then the Department of Public Health makes an inspection, then the owners all have to attend a meeting in San Ignacio, and then the restaurant and liquor licenses are issued. Last year, we didn’t find out about this until the last minute, so everything was rushed through and we never had the Public Health inspection. This year, Tom started the paperwork flow a few weeks ago, and on Wednesday the Department of Public Health pulled into the driveway. I was home alone and eating lunch on the porch, and the four inside dogs were sitting on the porch with me. Before I could let the Public Health people in the house, I had to put the dogs out, of course with much noise and ruckus. The inspector took out his checklist, asked a few questions, then asked to see the kitchen and dining area. He gave me a very serious look, and informed me that we were in violation of the Public Health rules because the dogs had been in the kitchen and dining area.
Honestly, we knew this, but had considered it sort of like speeding – a law that lots of people break, and for the most part no harm comes to anybody from it, and as long as you don’t hurt anybody and/or don’t get caught, nobody really cares. I don’t think we’ve eaten out in Belize where dogs haven’t wandered through the dining area, and most kitchens are also open with dogs wandering around. Our kitchen and dining area are in our house, our dogs are house dogs, and of course they were in those two rooms. I don’t ever want anyone to get sick from eating anything from my kitchen, and I’m probably a little nuts about making sure everything is clean and food is safely prepared – but I hadn’t yet swept that day so dog hair was obvious on the floor throughout the area, and of course the inspector had seen the dogs sitting with me when they pulled into the driveway. He was actually very fair, and passed us on all the inspection points, and then wrote down three “recommendations” on the back of the form, which isn’t part of the officially submitted carbon copy – pets out of kitchen and dining areas, clean the areas, and remove dog bowls from the areas. I signed that I understood the “recommendations,” and promised that I would comply by the meeting on Tuesday.
And, I have. The dogs are now very unhappy and making us a little crazy with their whining because they are blocked from the dining room and kitchen, where we spend a fair amount of time and where they used to hang out with us. The dog bowls are in the bedroom, where the dogs now eat and have their water. I washed all the dishes stored at dog level, did the daily sweeping (I didn’t tell the inspector that he was looking at only one day’s worth of dog hair – I really didn’t think that would help my cause!), and gave the whole kitchen a good scrub, which it was due for anyway. Nock protested by peeing on the bed, which didn’t accomplish anything for her other than that she now has to be outside with the Ruckus Twins rather than locked in the bedroom if we’re not in the bedroom with her. Our dogs are probably cleaner, less pest and disease ridden, and better immunized than most people, but the rules are the rules, and since we’ve been busted, we’ll comply.